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How to write an essay for your researched argument


For this essay, you will write a well-researched argument, approximately 1500-2000 words, that takes a position on the controversial topic you have been researching this semester.


Departmental Writing Task


Objectives: This assignment is designed to measure your ability to:


·         Write a focused, thesis-driven argument;


·         Evaluate information from primary and secondary sources based on authority, validity and usefulness;


·         Integrate sources effectively into your writing and document them correctly;


·         Interpret and respond appropriately to a writing situation, adopting the correct voice, tone and level of formality; and


·         Demonstrate knowledge of structure and organization, paragraphing, and mechanics.


Essay sample on death penalty


Departmental Requirements


Assignment must include:


·         A researched argument with a debatable thesis and evidence to support each claim and sub-claim;


·         A discussion that anticipates and addresses alternative points of view and/or counter arguments;


·         Six to eight sources with topic-appropriate mix of primary and secondary sources, including 3-5 scholarly ones (an ideal that may vary depending on the nature of the topic);


·         1500 words, using MLA conventions, plus Works Cited: and


·         Both a Print and a Digital submission to me in MSWord.


Thesis statement

Your thesis statement should be centered on an argument and be clear, specific and focused. You will want to argue a point that is supportable with strong evidence but also controversial (not something that everyone already agrees with). In other words, your thesis should be debatable by reasonable people (you can’t expect to convince unreasonable people, such as fanatic believers or fanatic skeptics). You will want to be aware of the stakeholders in the argument: that is, the people who stand to gain or lose from your perspective, even if it is only in terms of status or achieving success in the debate.


Essay Structure

Support or Evidence

Inform yourself on the complexities of your issue. Back up each claim from your research. Use credible, reliable sources to build credibility and gain authority to speak and to persuade your audience (Refer to “Evaluating Sources in Quick Access(QA) pp190-202). You will use both direct quotes and paraphrases, and you will cite all your sources correctly in your essay, as well as prepare a Works Cited page (alphabetized!) to accompany the essay (Refer to QA pp 229-247). 



Consider opposition you see in your research as well as anticipating what some opponents might argue.  Ideally, your argument will be sophisticated, in that it does not just see two sides in black and white, but sees multiple opinions (or counter arguments), while firmly supporting your own viewpoint. You will need to explain the opposing position fairly and completely, anticipating possible opposition, then refuting it and/or conceding to some points. Include specific, concrete examples and instances of concepts you discuss. Pictures or pictures in words of actual, individual cases can appeal more to readers’ emotions, than can the abstract concepts without those specifics!





You should have 6-8 sources. Two can be from your textbook. Your sources should be either scholarly sources or from respected, mainstream news sources, and contain verifiable evidence for your position. You should try to use at least two credible opposing sources (one can be from your textbook). You should show that you are able to evaluate credibility in the selection of your sources (BRIEFLY, what are the credentials of the author?). Selected information should always be relevantto the central argument, based on solid evidence,and quoted or paraphrased correctly to support each claim. Sources should also be well integrated into developed paragraphs (contextualized by using your words to introduce the quote grammatically and to explain its importance to your argument: See Quotation sandwich in How’ja Say on Moodle).




Submit early to Turnitinin case you need to make revisions! Sometimes, originality results can take up to 48 hours!


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            Title:   A catchy title that gives the reader a clue to the issue and your position.


I. Introduction:


            Grab the reader in the first sentence. See “Effective Beginnings” document on Moodle;


            Present the issue to be researched;


            Discuss significance (Rationale for your research): Answer the question “So What?”Why does this issue need to be addressed?


            Present your Main Claim or Thesis, either underlined or italicized: (The answer to your issue question: The determination of the most valid perspective for improving the problem or for what the outcome of the issue might be, based on your reliable research). Thesis should appear at the end of first paragraph (or possibly second, paragraph, if you have a good deal of information to lead up to it).


II. Background:


Consider what your audience might know and provide any background necessary for that audience;


            Define any terms or concepts you need to, considering your audience (the entire diverse LSU community), and what they might or might not be expected to know or might need you to define;


III. Presentation of your position:


            NOTE: Use MLA conventions to accurately document all sources used! Detailed instructions and models to follow, in your QA text, pp 218-223.


            Optional: Describe your interest/experience with the issue.  Any experience adds                    credibility and authority; In this case, add this only if you HAVE significant         background or interest in the issue beyond your research this semester.                    


            Present Reasons for your claim.  Make sure your reasons are logical,  and that


      your argument makes sense logically.




            Support each reason with solid Evidenceand supporting reasons from your sources.


(See RENNS, Box 7.2, p. 65). The more thorough your evidence, and the more complete your research, the stronger your argument will be.




            Tie reasons to beliefs or values your audience accepts.


Try to find Common Ground, even if some in your audience do not agree with your findings.  What concepts can we all agree on? How can you tie that concept to your argument? Try to remember that your hope is to unite, not divide, the audience.




`IV. Summary and rebuttal of Counterarguments,or opposing positions.


                        Place asterisk in the margin beside opposing view/rebuttal.:




            Anticipate and Present views differing from your own, fairly, completely, and respectfully;


            Refute and/or Concede to counterarguments;


          Present opposing viewpoints, fairly and completely.Show weaknesses in counterarguments;


          Respectfully respond to these objections, and explain why your viewpoint is stronger, based on solid, reliable evidence;


          Concede to any strengths in opposing views.  Often your argument is stronger if you are willing to concede to some points, then explain why your position is still the strongest.


          Always maintain a respectful Tone to those who disagree with your findings.  Often colored language can reveal certain biases: avoid words like alarmist, ignorant, uninformed, hysteria, etc., when discussing those who disagree. Ironically, your argument will be stronger and more convincing if you stay on high ground.


            V. Conclusion Suggestions:


            Recap implications of your perspective, referring to your thesis in different terms;


            Possibly suggest any further research needed on the issue;


            Leave a strong last impression; give your reader something to think about;


            Consider a call for action (if appropriate).

            VI. Works Cited with accurate, UPDATED MLA documentation of sources.  You may build on the Works Cited from your Research Proposal, adding and deleting any sources as necessary.


Note: The body paragraphs (Sections II. and III) may be inverted, depending on what is most rhetorically appropriate for your audience.  Often for RESISTANT audiences, it is best to explain the opposing view first, then systematically explain why your view is more accurate or beneficial.


Additional Note:The preceding outline is an example of the block format.Your issue might lend itself better to the alternate format. In that case, the intro and conclusion will be the same, but the body paragraphs will be organized as follows:






                              Sub-issue A: Claim and evidence


                              Sub-issue A: Opposing position and rebuttal




                              Sub-issue B: Claim and evidence


                              Sub-issue B: Opposing position and rebuttal




                              Sub-issue C: Claim and evidence


                              Sub-issue C: Opposing position and rebuttal






Special Instructions for either the Block or Alternating Form:After you have completed your Researched Argument, please underline or italicize your thesis and place an asterisk beside the rebuttal section/s.

How to write an essay for your researched argument

Last Updated on July 16, 2020

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